A method and apparatus are disclosed for classifying materials utilizing a computerized touch sensitive screen or other computerized pointing device for operator identification and electronic marking of spatial coordinates of materials to be extracted. An operator positioned at a computerized touch sensitive screen views electronic images of the mixture of materials to be sorted as they are conveyed past a sensor array which transmits sequences of images of the mixture either directly or through a computer to the touch sensitive display screen. The operator manually "touches" objects displayed on the screen to be extracted from the mixture thereby registering the spatial coordinates of the objects within the computer. The computer then tracks the registered objects as they are conveyed and directs automated devices including mechanical means such as air jets, robotic arms, or other mechanical diverters to extract the registered objects.
The present invention relates generally to a robotic sorting system, and, more particularly to a robotic sorting system suitable for separating recyclable or waste material. This invention was made with Government support under Contract No. DE-FG02-95ER82037, having an effective date of Sep. 1, 1995, a ward ed by the United States Department Of Energy. The Government has certain rights in the invention.